See Also: Historical Maps of Sudbury <> Hudson 1889 <> History Books <> Before the English

Roadside Marker Panel

Mass State Seal 2023

The Signs Are All Around Us
A Community Forum on History, Memory, & Roadside Markers
on April 2, 2023 at 2PM.

SudburyTV recording of the panel
SudburyWeekly newsletter coverage Original coverage and Q&A with Town Historian

Thoughts after the Panel

I thought the panel discussion would be about the veracity of the four signs mentioned in the Letter from the clergy to the DEI. However it was really more about the 1930 signs in general. It took me a little while to digest that. More on that below. Here is more or less what I said, as I usuall stick to my script, becuse, under most conditions, I am not a fluid public speaker.

Question: Does the information they provide remain relevant today? Or is it outdated? Is it inaccurate? and in need of revision or recontextualization?

The information on the signs is very relevant today. The Sudbury Fight was a significant event in the history of the town and an important battle of what is known as King Philip's War. It is important for the current residents of Sudbury to understand our relationship to the Nipmuc people back then and to consider what the current relationship is now.

The question of whether is it accurate or not revolves around two statements:

The first is on the Haynes Garrison House marker, which I believe is the most controversial:

One-Eighth of a mile north is the site of the Haynes Garrison House the home of Deacon John Haynes. Here the settlers by their brave defense saved the town when King Philip and his Indian warriors attacked Sudbury in April, 1676.

The second in the letter from members of the Sudbury Clergy Association. It reads:

“First Peoples resided on this land for thousands of years before colonial settlers arrived, in the broader context, they can be understood to have been defending their ancestral land from invasion by colonial settlers.“

I fully agree with that statement, but the signs are referring to the Sudbury Fight, which occurred 38 years after the first English settled in Sudbury. Many settlers had been born and raised here, so, I think it is accurate to say that they were defending the town. Both assertions are true, within their respective contexts. And we absolutely should present the broader context along side the 1930 markers.

I had prepared two more answers for two more questions, but I put in both parts to the question about what we should do with the signs.

I am in favor of a second sign to give context for each 1930 roadside marker in the best language that can be agreed upon before the signs are are put up. If this project has legs, the ideal deadline would be April of 2026, that will be the 350th anniversary of the Sudbury Fight.

It would also have QR code that would link to the Town-wide Interpretive Program proposed in the The Historic Preservation Plan that was published last year. to raise public awareness and encourage support for preservation, conservation, and stewardship of Sudbury’s natural and historic places. Ideally, the Interpretive Program would be a Sudbury History Wiki, that could be edited by all interested and qualified.

I think the current signs are a good size & style. The are subtle enough that they do not distract you, but they are still in plain as sight. If nobody saw them, we would not be here today. I think it is fine for the government to create and maintain public commemorations and art. These benefit all inhabitants of Sudbury by giving them more of a sense of place.

Change the signs

We should change the signs. The signs are a symbol of the dominant culture of the 1930s. They celebrate the colonial culture tried to eradicate the Nipmuc and other indigenous cultures after the King Philip's War. The state seal on the markers is egregious. I think they should change, rather than keeping them and adding a second for context. Here is the current status of Change the Flag. The greatest leverage right now might be to provide coherent public comment to that process.

The Indian Reservation sign is a bitter bitter pill to swallow for Andre. It should be for all of us.

If you want to quibble over the veracity of the 4 Sudbury signs called out in the clergy letter to the DEIC, I'd OK with that, too.

The clear star of the show was Tara and her impassioned plea for us to be better human beings.


Sudbury Fight

The Sudbury Fight was a battle during the King Philips War. WikiPedia: Sudbury Fight

This is a gathering place for information about roadside markers about the Sudbury Fight.

Katina Fontes has organized forum in the issue on April 2, 2023 at 2PM.

The original letter from members of the Sudbury Clergy Association can be found in the DEI aggends for 2022-02-10. Here is just the Sudbury Clergy Letter which begins:

Depiction of Native Americans in Public Markers in Sudbury Letter from Sudbury Clergy Association

January 25, 2022
Dear Members of the Sudbury Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission,
As members of the Sudbury Clergy Association, we are concerned about the representation of First Peoples (Indigenous People) in public markers in Sudbury.

Markers at isssue:

Sudbury Fight
One-quarter mile north took place the Sudbury Fight with King Philip's Indians on April 21, 1676. Captain Samuel Wadsworth fell with twenty-eight of his men; their monument stands in the burying ground.

The Goodnow Garrison House
Portion of the Goodenow Garrison House in which the settlers took refuge from King Philip''s Indians during the battle of April 18-21, 1676.

Haynes Garrison House
One-Eighth of a mile north is the site of the Haynes Garrison House the home of Deacon John Haynes. Here the settlers by their brave defense saved the town when King Philip and his Indian warriors attacked Sudbury in April, 1676.

Settled 1638 by a company of Puritans who arrived in the ship "Confidence" and were attracted by the meadows on the Musketaquid River. Named after Sudbury in Suffolk.


The Public History of King Philip's War: A Panel Discussion (youtibe) hosted by the Wayland Library. Link to more resources
Historical markers erected by Massachusetts Bay Colony is the original book produced to document the markers.
Marked Territory: Rethinking Massachusetts' Roadside Histories - blog post pondering the same question.
image HMDB_RoadSideMarkers.jpg
HMDB_RoadSideMarkers.jpg - 1642x1388
image HudsonOverWalling.jpg
HudsonOverWalling.jpg - 2079x2425

Started: 2023-02-23 <> jch, aka YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh